TAMPA,FLA. — TAMPA, Fla. -- It took cornerback Everson Walls 10 years and four Pro Bowls to reach The Show.
It took cornerback Roger Brown one year and two releases to stand on the same glorious ground.
Was it blind luck or predestination that put the rookie Brown on the same New York Giants team in the same Super Bowl with the veteran Walls?
Every year the Super Bowl is filled with curious oddities, weird quirks and inexplicable ironies. Brown, a 24-year-old Baltimore native, is merely the latest example of that unwritten code.
His journey to Tampa was anything but predictable.
He was an eighth-round draft choice by the Green Bay Packers last spring out of Virginia Tech.
Then he was a last-cut casualty in training camp.
Next, he was a free-agent find when Giants cornerback Mark Collins injured an ankle.
Four weeks later, when Collins returned, Brown was waived again.
Next, he was signed to the Giants' practice squad, allowed to practice, but not to play.
And finally, when quarterback Phil Simms went on injured reserve six weeks ago, Brown was placed on the active roster in time for the last two regular-season games and the Giants' playoff run.
"This," Brown said yesterday, soaking up the Super Bowl scene, "is kind of a reward for telling myself to hang in there. I didn't go to the practice squad with a bad attitude. I knew good things come to those who wait."
Some waits are longer than others, as previously noted. But JTC Brown, who wears No. 46, has made the most of his opportunity.
Although he's only on one pass coverage team going into Sunday's game against the Buffalo Bills, he is on four different special teams -- punt return, punt coverage, kickoff and field goal block squads.
"I get to play a lot," he said. "I'm doing my job, trying to hang in. I haven't caused a fumble yet, and I emphasize yet."
The son of Roger (Sr.) and Patricia Brown, Roger Jr. starred in baseball (as a centerfielder) and football (as a receiver) at Cardinal Gibbons High. His father, an associate judge in the Circuit Court of Baltimore, remembers taking him to Memorial Stadium in 1979 to see the Colts play the Giants. Another irony: that was Simms' rookie season.
"Back in April, I would not have thought it would come to this," Roger Sr. said yesterday of his son's football career.
"There was the consideration prior to the draft that Roger would go in the fourth round. He didn't. When the eighth round started, I told him good things always come to those who wait. Then the phone rang."
Brown had had a successful career at Virginia Tech.
"I played cornerback," he said. "I played like [former Los Angeles Raiders cornerback] Lester Hayes. Nasty, aggressive. I talked trash, but backed it up."
With the Packers, Brown showed enough to last until the final cut. "I didn't feel I got a raw deal," he said. "Coach [Lindy] Infante was trying to do what's best for the team. They had drafted Leroy Butler in the second round and they weren't going to keep two rookie cornerbacks."
Brown got another call, this one from the Giants, a day after he was cut. There was an invitation to go to the Meadowlands. And when he was cut for the second time this season, he decided to join the Giants' practice squad because "I thought I'd get a fair shake."
One more potential twist in this story: It is possible the Giants will leave Brown unprotected when next month's Plan B free-agent deadline arrives. All things considered, Brown would rather remain a Giant. Indicative of the confidence he has gained from playing in eight NFL games, though, he feels certain he will be in the league somewhere next season.
"I know I can play in this league," he said. "I've seen the competition, I've seen the opposition. I think I can do it."